Hands up! Don’t shoot: The genocidal killing of Michael Brown

Yes, it has happened again. Another unarmed Black male murdered by the police. The location: this time in the racially divided town of Ferguson, Missouri.

On Aug. 9, 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown and a friend were walking down a street in their own community when they were confronted by an officer for allegedly interfering with traffic. Translation: They were confronted by the officer for the crime of “walking while Black.” The end result of this racial profiling was Brown succumbing to a hail of bullets and his friend literally running for his life.

According to an eyewitness account from 19-year-old Piaget Crenshaw, which aired on CNN on Aug. 18, the officer tried to grab Brown and pull him inside his police cruiser. There was a brief scuffle before Brown was able to free himself. Visibly upset that Brown got away, the officer exited his vehicle with his gun drawn and began to fire at Brown as he (Brown) ran down the street.

As Brown turned around with his hands in the air, screaming “Don’t shoot” the officer maliciously continued to fire his service weapon, pumping Brown’s body with multiple bullets and extinguishing the life of this recent high school graduate. According to an independent autopsy, Brown was shot a total of six times, four times to his right arm, once in the right eye and once in the top of his head.

The renowned cell phone video shot by Crenshaw shows the officer pacing nervously back and forth as Brown’s bullet-riddled body lay uncovered in the middle of the street.

Michael Brown, graduate

The Ferguson Police Department refused to release the name of the officer responsible for Brown’s murder while they concocted a story to justify Brown’s death. As a result of the lack of transparency by the Ferguson Police Department regarding the investigation of the officer involved and the recent trend of unarmed Black men and women being murdered by the police, security guards and vigilantes, the predominantly Black community – including anti-racist Whites – rose up in outrage, anger and frustration to protest the “unjustified” shooting death of yet another unarmed Black male.

When it was clear the initial peaceful demonstrations were on the verge of transforming into a full-blown rebellion, the fascist Ferguson Police Department took to the streets in full force in riot gear, with tear gas, flash bang and smoke grenades, fully automatic rifles and machine guns and militarized armored personnel vehicles. Not fully grasping the politics of reactionary violence, this repressive show of force by the Ferguson Police Department only exacerbated the situation.

The insurrection was on. More radical elements from amongst the peaceful demonstrators allegedly began looting and burning stores, firing shots at the police and engaging in increased intra-communal violence. (Most such reports have since been debunked. – ed.) The police stepped up their brutality: arresting and assaulting demonstrators, including reporters and other journalists, they provoked into confrontations, firing tear gas and flash bang grenades, aiming their rifles and machine guns at demonstrators, marching behind armored personnel vehicles patrolling the streets of Ferguson.

This young man, on his way to Mike Brown’s funeral Monday with his little girl, wears a shirt with a picture of himself throwing a teargas canister back at the police. The burning need to protect himself and his child and defeat police terrorism makes him fearless. – Photo: Minister of Information JR Valrey, Block Report

Having been thrust into the national spotlight on every major news outlet, some interesting facts about Ferguson were exposed for the world to see: Though Ferguson has a 67 percent Black population, 50 of Ferguson’s 53 police officers are White; five of six councilmembers are White and both the police chief and fire chief in Ferguson are – you guessed it – White. The unjustified shooting death of yet another unarmed Black male at the hands of police, the lack of transparency in and the militarized show of force by the Ferguson Police Department and the lack of Black political representation in key leadership positions all led to a volatile powder keg of outrage, anger and frustration.

Meanwhile, at the height of the insurrection, true to capitalist-imperialist form, Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon resorted to counter-revolutionary tactics by taking security out of the jurisdiction of the Ferguson Police Department and putting it in the hands of the Missouri Highway Patrol and later the National Guard. Capt. Ron Johnson, an African American Highway Patrol officer, was paraded before the media and through the streets of Ferguson in a desperate attempt to quell the revolutionary spirit of the more radical and progressive lumpen elements and transform it into a more reformist spirit, taking its focus off of toppling a corrupt police force.

This tactic seemed to work until Aug. 15, when the Ferguson Police Department released the name, Darren Wilson, of the officer who murdered Brown, while simultaneously releasing a video of Brown allegedly robbing a store of a box of cigars. The release of the video re-lit and refueled the flames of outrage as the protesters went back to the streets to angrily express their opposition to the Ferguson Police Department’s indirect claim that because Brown allegedly robbed a store he deserved to be shot down in broad daylight like a rabid dog.

A young rebel, hands up, faces police he can’t see as he wades through a river of teargas. The youth of Ferguson are undeterred in the face of the most extreme police terrorism in memory.

What immediately followed was more pandemonium. Speaking about the violence before a crowd of protestors on Aug. 16, Capt. Johnson stated: “What we (Black people) are doing is not who we are.” With all due respect to Capt. Johnson, what Black people do in response to great injustices like genocidal killings of our men, women and children by the police is exactly who we are.

Ever since Black people have been in this country, we have been subjected to a perpetual state of structural oppression and exploitation, including genocidal killings purposefully committed by law enforcement to instill terror in the Black community. And in most cases, because of “who we are,” when confronted with such injustices, we have marched, boycotted, protested, rioted and rebelled.

Ever since Black people have been in this country, we have been subjected to a perpetual state of structural oppression and exploitation, including genocidal killings purposefully committed by law enforcement to instill terror in the Black community. And in most cases, because of “who we are,” when confronted with such injustices, we have marched, boycotted, protested, rioted and rebelled.

These institutionalized and structural genocidal practices and policies are to perform one function: destroy the Black community. How do you destroy the Black community? You retard its capacity to reproduce and sustain itself.

Police point their guns at the rebels. The rage and repression unleashed by Michael Brown’s murder has brought welcome attention to the militarization of police. – Photo: Joshua Lott, Reuters

The Black communities the nation over are plagued with drugs, guns, poverty, liquor stores, homelessness, joblessness, abortion clinics, poor health care, severely under-funded school systems, high incarceration rates and racist, trigger-happy cops who are eager to carry out systematic, genocidal killings of our people.

According to a report published by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement titled “Every 36 Hours: Extrajudicial Killings of Black People” between Jan. 1 and June 30 of 2012, “police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes have murdered at least 120 Black men and women. These killings are not random acts of violence or the work of rogue cops. The use of deadly force against Black people is standard practice in the U.S. woven into the fabric of society.” (A year-end update found a total of 313 killings in 2012, averaging one every 28 hours. – ed.)

According to this report, in 39 percent of these cases, police cited “suspicious behavior or appearance or traffic violations (driving while Black) as the reason for their attempt to detain (or question) the person whom they eventually killed.” The report stated further that of the 120 Black people killed by police, 47 had no weapon at all and 40 were alleged by police to have weapons which later turned out to be toy guns, cell phones, wallets etc.

Leslie McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., Mike’s parents, signal victory and surrender – victory over police terrorism through the surrender of their son. Leslie says Mike deliberately distracted the killer cop so his friend, Dorian Johnson, could escape.

And lastly, according to this report, “One Black person (is) executed (by police) every 36 hours.” If this trend continues, there will be another genocidal killing of an unarmed Black person by police before the smoke clears in Ferguson.

Until the Black community develops a plan of action or strategy to confront, resist and prevent police violence in our communities in particular and in society in general, there will be another Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown coming soon to a city near you.

All power to the protestors in Ferguson, Missouri! And revolutionary love to Leslie McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown. I see and feel your pain.

You can write to Uhuru:
Uhuru Baraka Rowe
Buckingham Correctional Center,
P.O. Box 430,
Dillwyn, VA 23936.


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